Our View: A safer world for women means a brighter future

Sunday marks the beginning of more than two weeks of activism geared at eliminating violence against women.

According to the United Nations,

— 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner

— Only 52 percent of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care

— Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; while 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM)

— 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2012; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances

— 71 percent of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited

— Violence against women is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than traffic accidents and malaria combined.

“Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it,” according to the UN.

That is why Nov. 25 is recognized as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The date marks the launch of 16 days of activism that will conclude on International Human Rights Day, which is Dec. 10.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was first marked as a day to combat violence and raise awareness in 1981 by activists. The United Nations General Assembly gave the day its official designation in 1999. The date is based on the 1960 assassination of three Mirabal sisters who were political activists in the Dominican Republic who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.

Violence against women is one of the many obstacles faces worldwide to achieving equality and the fulfillment of women’s and girl’s rights.

While American women still battle inequality, they have some of the strongest rights and freedoms among women around the world. It is critical women with these freedoms use them to speak out against violence against women, that women and and men at all levels of authority — from government, to the judicial system, in schools, in our churches, in our neighborhoods, etc. — set policies and instill values that reflect respect and equality for women.

Equality can mean a lot of things, but it is impossible to argue that women do not deserve to be free of fear of violence at such alarming rates.

The 25th of each month is designated at Orange Day by the UN Women Campaign, a day when people can wear orange in solidarity for the cause.

This year’s theme for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women campaign is “Orange the World: #HearMeToo.

This year, organize an event, wear orange or simply educate yourself on the issues and how to address them in your own family, school, workplace and community.

A future without violence against women is one that is brighter for all of use.